The effectiveness of incentive-based conservation programs depends on how they influence and interact with multiple motivations of the participants. Here, we studied an incentive-based program for forest conservation in Bolivia – called “Reciprocal Watershared Agreements” – that mixes material compensations with pro-social and pro-environmental motivations as a way to reduce crowding-out of intrinsic motivations and to increase participation. Based on a sample of 470 households who were offered the program, we studied household characteristics that influenced (i) the probability of participation in the program, (ii) the intensity of the participation, measured as the area allocated in the agreement, and (iii) the modality of participation, measured as the probability of participation in the different types of agreements. We found that owning property titles, having large forested land with low conservation opportunity cost, agricultural equipment and off-farm incomes seem to favour participation. In addition, the probability of participation increases with some pro-social factors, such as a deeper or older integration into social networks, and greater compliance to social norms of reciprocity. We also found that a lack of trust in public institutions can increase both the likelihood and the intensity of participation, as can certain pro-environmental factors, such as awareness of environmental problems, knowledge about potential solutions to solve them and perception of the gains associated with the conservation of ecosystem services. Finally, we found that feeling some individual responsibility for environmental issues and some difficulty in performing pro-environmental options may increase participation into more restrictive agreements. Our results thus highlight the factors that could increase uptake and factors on which programs might focus in order to have a greater impact on pro-environmental behaviours. They also suggest that incentive-based program can be designed to take advantage of pro-social and pro-environmental motivations as strongly as of economic ones.
Economic, pro-social and pro-environmental factors influencing participation in an incentive-based conservation program in Bolivia
26 May 2021